Mobile apps are probably one of the most called for and worst understood UX design challenges in the market today. Even now with smartphone usage being the norm it's not unusual to have requirements that talk of clicks instead of gestures and fold issues and scrolling, as if a web page can simply be transitioned to an app, plus the idea that tablet and phone have different real estate and therefore different gestures and layout and interaction models escapes so many product owners. Luckily most get it, it might take a little education to new ones but the knowledge is certainly better than it was when I first started designing apps. Barclays is one of those that do get it, as the many awards for their banking apps prove, and I'm happy to have played a part in that.
When I first encountered BMB it had a good reputation, mainly down to the fact that it was one of the first to the market, but as always improvements could and were made. The biggest problem was getting the knowledge inhouse as so much development and design was being handled by third parties.
My first task was to produce a series of flow diagrams, until this point all user journeys were 'happy path' only and even then only the external agency knew the existing structure. When flow diagrams were produced various pain-points became easily recognised and could be eliminated or at least streamlined to edge cases.
I now moved on to creating a series of Personas, as the existing ones did not have any mobile usage data and stretched to several pages per person. With these in place it was relatively easy to establish an interaction design process based around mobile banking needs. Luckily I had an incredible wealth of data to base these on thanks to SEREN, LBi and Barclays own Customer Insight Team's records.
I continued to evaluate the apps' UI design, using a mixture of Ming Hwan Yun's and Hampton Catlin's mobile heuristics, to refine the wider user experience, which again was fed back into the build process.- Is the system as simple as possible but not too simple?
- Is there a good balance between brevity and comprehension?
- Is the core value proposition the primary focus?
- Where is more important than who, is this balance reflected in the UI?
- Is the system status clearly visible?
- Do the system terms and features match their real-world counterparts?
- Are touch controls and options obvious?
- Is there consistency in both touch interaction and layout across the systems?
- Can handling errors be avoided?
- Does the system help users recognise, diagnose and recover from errors?
- Are the system controls easily recognisable rather than learnt?
- Are the aesthetics of minimalist design?
- Do the controls stay consistent with a change of device orientation?
- Is help documentation easily found?
My final work on BMB, if not for Barclays, was to provide the first iPad design guidance. A mistake UX designers see regularly is the belief that user behavior does not change between phone and tablet and scaling a phone UI to a tablet size rarely works. All this was part of an iterative design and test program with my final work being completed in November 2012. The apps, both BMB and Pingit, I worked on have now gone from strength to strength and have garnered many digital awards. Something that pleases me no end at all.
What would I change in retrospect?
Insisting on a single decision maker. The design and development of the apps was almost entirely a UK concern but due to the very nature of them being global so many different areas of the business claimed control that the development of the app often took longer than needed. When I started there was only limited access to usability testing, I should have pushed to get more.